obviously, you have to research first. But you can't always hold back due to the consequencesOriginally Posted by firehous
obviously, you have to research first. But you can't always hold back due to the consequencesOriginally Posted by firehous
So no one who is better than you ever charges less than you? Thats a wee bit arrogant don't you think?You can get it done for cheap, but you will be sacrificing quality. Most good companies/freelancers will be looking for around $5,000. We now charge $5,500 CAD for the most basic ecommerce sites.
With my current soon-to-be-launched project I hired a very professional looking company. They had multiple employees, offices, meetings, etc. Their estimate waslike $2100 for customized OSC.
The work and service they provided was shoddy. I ended up dumping them and hiring a guy through these forums for $500. The design is 10x better than those other bozos had done, and he gets the work done faster too.
More $$$ isn't always more quality, sometimes its just more $$$.
Another problem is the whole reinvention of the wheel. Most of the work for a nicely customized OSC site has been done, already, by someone. There are thousands of contributations and a decent amount of prepackaged "optimized" versions like CREloaded.com. So doing it all from scratch isn't necessary, neither is charging each individual client once the work has been done for one. That is probably most of the cost savings right there. Some people will develop a solution, charge a client for it, and charge another client the same amount for it as if it had to be developed from scratch. Other people will develop a solution and then sell it at a discounted rate multiple times. Its the same quality of solution, one person just makes up in volume what he lacks in margin.
"The ecommerce site you're trying to build over on this forum goes by the name ..., and it's something we constantly make fun of."
So you're discounting this advice because it comes from an "expert" in the industry? Better to take the advice from someone who doesn't do it for a living????Originally Posted by BeenThere
Of course it can be done for less, but for everyone one of your successful websites that got rich through trial and error there are thousands that crashed and burned -- wasting the money they did invest.Originally Posted by BeenThere
Can a successful ecommerce business be created out of $5,000 -- of course.
It is likely -- no.
I've helped many ecommerce business start from scratch over the past ten years, and in my experience, $5,000 isn't enough seed money to ensure success. It takes a long time and/or a lot of cash to get the site off the ground. It could be months after the site launches before a single sale is made, and you need to have the time and money to survive that drought.
Even after that first sale (and the second, third, tenth, etc.) it may be many months before the business becomes profitable. You've got thousands of dollars of up-front cost that needs to be recouped before you become profitable, and then monthly costs on top of that (hosting, advertising, marketing, accounting, taxes, bank fees, credit card fees, salary?), not to mention your cost for the merchandise being sold. These aren't luxuries -- every ecommerce business has these costs.
The niche you pick has a huge influence on this as well. I have one customer who spends thousands of dollars a day on PPC advertising and brings in millions of dollars in sales. To be competitive, however, their margins have to be very low. So even though they have millions of dollars of sales per year, their profit isn't much more than what an average office secretary makes. It's a lot of work for very little profit.
So, my point is this. A smart, determined, lucky person can take $5,000 and turn it into a successful business. They are more likely to burn it away, however. That's true in all lines of business -- ecommerce, restaurants, plumbers, accountants, tailors, whatever. It's just a fact. More new businesses fail than succeed. Statistics show, however, that having more up-front money tends to produce more success.
Having enough cash to hire a professional to build your web site is one way to tilt the odds in your favor -- and you'll be hard pressed to get a professional to build you a decent ecommerce site for under $5,000.
Sorry if this comes across as a bummer, but it's the truth. If you don't go into this with realistic expectations, you're better off taking that $5,000 and having a nice vacation in Hawaii. That has a high chance of enjoyment!
If you do choose to go ahead with the business, however, I wish you great success!
In my last post I completely forgot to touch on dropshippers.
You can absolutely start a business using dropshippers. In fact you would be remiss if you didn't.
Whoever told you using dropshippers is silly doesn't know much about ecommerce or at least the dropshipping industry.
Even extremely large ecommerce sites use dropshippers. In fact dropshipping can be less expensive than not drop shipping in a lot of cases.
One of the products we offer costs approximately $200 to ship. If I stock this product which I do for retail customers who purhcase at one of our bricks and mortar stores it costs me approximately $120 per unit when shipped to me in bulk. The manufacturer charges me the freight plus $5 (dropshipping fee) to ship the product directly to a customer.
If I had to ship the product it would cost me the initial $120 I paid to land it at my facility and then another $200 to ship to the customer.
You do leave some money on the table but not at first. If you have the capital to order a container load of product (which obviously you dont to start) then you can increase your profit margin by warehousing the products yourself but then you have all of the overhead and what if the products you selected become less popular. You have to blow them out (discount them and sell fast).
One of my sites used dropshippers for about a year until we were able to order by the container load.
Now back to starting the electronics ecom site.
What are you going to do differently than others offering the same products?
Can you offer the same products for less?
Will you be able to offer better service?
Is there a specific market you are going to be targeting?
Do you have currently have a website which has a built in customer base which you can tap into?
I would suggest speaking with someone who is successful within the electronics industry maybe via an industry specific forum.
i think aspen has the hit the nail right on target..
first time store that was done through yahoo store system was for $1200 and this was one of the most amazing looking websites I have ever been involved with. The $1200 was for custom design, customization of cart features and they even did keyword research for us
Just few months ago I was looking for an oscommerce expert and the person who did the work has done a fantastic job! Those who simply state oscommerce is a waste of time are fools! Like someone said here, why reinvent the wheel!? Every feature that I could think of was found in contributions. The guy did the complete A to Z for oscommerce for $750 and I spent $500 for a design, logo and business card template
So yes it can be done. It could've been a much more bargain if I wasn't looking for that many features in the store. I figured "automation"
Sad to see how low some members are willing to go here by guiding people to something thats totally not true and they know it!
What a brilliant success story aspen! There is no doubt that you have managed to pull off a great ecommerce site within the budget. There is also no doubt that there have been people who have started up companies that are insanely huge with an extremely low budget. There is no doubt that anyone can go and do that.Originally Posted by aspen
But for every success story of "I invested $1000 and now I'm making $100000" you can find a hundred stories of "I invested $1000 and I might've just as fell flushed them". What's the percentage these days for the Internet? Over 50% of Internet startup businesses fail during the first year? Something like that, it was higher than the standard 50% for regular businesses. One after another we're seeing websites, e-commerce sites, etc, that basically no consumer really gives a damn about. And they fail. Most of the Internet is made up of websites that have failed.
One way to minimise the chance of failure is proper market research and a proper website.
It's all fine and dandy people saying you can make a successful ecommerce site for peanuts, well yes you can, that is, if you have the existing expertise in the required fields in the first place, and/or a fair shair of good fortune. I personally have made several succesful ecommerce sites 'for free', because as an ecommerce consultant, I have all the necessary expertise and skill - of course all these sites cost me a great deal in time.
So yes, if you are a resident guru on SEO, you can optimise your site for free.
Yes, if you understand the ins and outs of optimising site navigation paths and conversion rates, you'll save yourself a packet in third party consulting.
Yes, if you have existing server side/database knowledge you can perform all the required functionality changes to your free ecommerce software without spending a dime.
Yes if you understand how to write effective web copy that sells, you'll not need to hire an experienced copywriter.
Yes, if you are naturally gifted at photography, you wont need to hire that freelance photographer to take all your product pictures.
But all the above requires existing expertise, knowledge, and of course, lots of time. Your typical businessman doesn't have this expertise, and certainly doesnt have the time to learn it or do it himself. Hence he gets outside consultants to do it for him.
Now if you want to spend $500 on these consultants, the best of luck to you. I'm not here to discourage you, go for it and maybe it will work out for you. But personally I feel that the results you get be vastly improved if you take on board someone who knows what he is talking about. I personally do not know much about accounting, so I hire an accountant. He's also a good accountant, is expensive, but because he's good, he saves me £1000s each year.
And before anyone says it, no, I'm not looking for business, hence the reason I avoid using any form of signature in my posts. Just offering up some experience as I've seen plenty of ecommerce sites fail miserably because their owners decided to rely on guesswork, uninformed decisions and inefficient use of budget.
Personally I feel if funds are limited, you should dedicate the lion's share of your initial budget to ensuring your site is set up to most effectively convert customers. This means dedicating time and research nito understanding your customers and their buying habits, looking into proven methods for reducing abandonment rates, increasing site peneration ratios, getting well written persuasive copy, etc. These important aspects are mostly independant of the 'base' ecommerce solution you use, so it pays to invest the time and money into getting this part of the site correct from the start (obviously ongoing tweaking is required).
Once the site has been set up for a good conversion rate, then you can worry about how you'll get visitors there. Otherwise, what's the point of spending $1000s on PPC or investing mountains of time and/or money on SEO if your customers arrive on your home page and imediately click their back button as you didn't have a clue about how to set up a home page with the necessary elements that encourage deeper navigation and pursuasive purchasing.
Hopefully once the site is set up for high conversion, you can instigate a PPC campaign that should more than pay for itself on a daily basis. Then with your profits, you 'up' the PPC and start investing money on SEO and other marketing avenues, all the time tweaking your site and A/B testing.
If you personally don't know how to do all this (properly), then as with anything else in life, you get someone in who does. Unfortunately that tends to cost and generally will cost alot more than $500, but while he's doing all that for you, you can spend your time on other aspects of your business.
Last edited by shadowbox; Feb 4, 2006 at 04:07.
I looked into UK dropshipping a couple of years ago and basically, it had not really taken off in the same way it has in the US. All I could find, for want of a better word, was 'tat', like novelty gifts.Originally Posted by .Simplicity
Perhaps things have improved - I'd be interested to hear if anyone has recommendations.
It absolutely can be done and for a lot less I might add. However, you have to decide if you will do most of the work needed yourself or use the money to free up your time for the most important aspect of success which is marketing.
1) Do your research and pick a ncihe product. But don't pick so tight a niche that there is no demand. If people don't want it then no matter how nice your store is, and how good your prices you will fail.
2) Develop a business plan and a marketing plan. Business plan will lay out expenses, break even, etc. Marketing plan lets you plan where you will advertise and how you will market. Please don't forget offline marketing. Lots of people think that just because it's an internet store that they only need to market on the web. That's a no, no.
3) Don't use opensource shopping cart if you can. I tried and just too many hassles. You are a retailer not a web master. Your focus should be on runing your business not running the software. I recommend yahoo stores, it adds credibility, you can good really good designs, tested, and stable. I did not use Yahoo stores on my first e-commerce site, but I will on my second.
4) Use droppshippers to test your products and your market. I use droppshippers all the time. If a product is a good seller than I will buy in quantity (read big discounts). Be careful with fake droppshippers. These are companies that are middle man and not really the manufacturer or distributor. You end up paying a lot more than you need to.
5) Marketing is where it's at. If you cannot drive traffic to your site then you will fail. This is a very simplistic list. I suggest you pick up a copy of Online Store Profits over at http://www.yahoo-store-builder.com (This is NOT an Affiliate link) it covers e-comerce extremely well, and it is written by a couple who actually make money.
If you would like to know what I use and would like to take a look at my site PM me.
Best of luck, and like others have said here, just do it.
It doesnt cost $5000 for a design!!!Originally Posted by shadowbox
you could get a fully dynamic script like osCommerce with a full design for less than that...
$500 imo, is aple spending for a osCommerce theme. Plus, if the product is there many people wouldnt care about design. If you offer products at the correct price...
Have you actually read anything I've posted in this thread?Originally Posted by python66
I'm not talking about just 'design' - design is one of thousands of the ingredients that go into making a successful ecommerce site. We're talking about more than just customising an oscommerce template - lol, if only it were that easy.
Web designers 'design' sites. Great. Trouble is, there's not that many web designers who know anything about the intricacies of ecommerce development (see previous posts for examples). Hence you go to an ecommerce consultant who may either be able to handle much of the work for you, or will advise you on possible suppliers to consider. Do you think your average $100 OSCommerce template designer knows the first thing about how to increase a conversion rate by 2 points? Probably not. Do you think he has years of experience developing highly effective marketing plans? Unlikely. Do you reckon he knows the first thing about writing persuasive web copy? Really doubt it.
Building a successful online business requires skill in many disciplines, especially the skill to know when you are in too deep and need an external expert in a particular field to come in and take over. And if you think a web 'designer' on his own is going to be the answer to your problems, you're in for a rude awakening (i.e. join the other millions of half-baked, underperforming web sites out there who thought they knew it all and refused to bring in expert help).
Yes, because price is the only criteria for purchasing That's why we all drive around in Skodas....Originally Posted by python66
This is exactly one of the attitudes that you should leave at the door when setting up any business, let alone an ecommerce site. There's so many factors that affect purchasing decisions, and price is only one of them, and rarely the top criteria. Do you think Amazon has such a high conversion rate because they are the cheapest, or do you think it's because they spend their money on customer research, expert consulting, because they ensure that every word, every link, every image, every pixel is placed on that site with a specific, justifyable and measurable reason by a team of experts (and probably not a web desinger in sight except at the very end of the chain, receiving his 'to-do' list).
Over 50% of Internet startup businesses fail during the first year?All the more reason to spend less. The less you spend, the smaller your loss is if you fail.So, my point is this. A smart, determined, lucky person can take $5,000 and turn it into a successful business. They are more likely to burn it away, however. That's true in all lines of business -- ecommerce, restaurants, plumbers, accountants, tailors, whatever. It's just a fact. More new businesses fail than succeed.
i think electronics is a saturated niche already, focus it down more. Also try not to use dropshippers...not only will you make higher profits purchasing wholesale and reselling, but you can also get more unique items....and its a great incentive having $10,000 of stock in your lounge room that needs to be sold.
Yes of course you can start ecommerce with less than $25,000. i dont know where you guys saw that it costs so much to develop a site. Just visit getafreelancer.com, for that money you get 2 full time workers during 12 months lol average salary is not $3k-$5k/mo in India or some other highly competitive countries, its closer to $500/mo.Originally Posted by aspen
This is a question I need an answer to as well. Although I am not doing e-commerce I recently spent $4300.00 developing my website ememberme Now all I have left in my budget is about $900.00 for marketing. My developers told me not to do a pay per click until I have about 100-150 members. So where can I get the most for my advertising dollars. Should I try traditional ways of advertisin i.e. bilboards radio ads are is there something beter on the www
Press releases, blogs, anything free.
What's wrong with going with GoDaddy ecommerce site as seen here? I've been considering it.
I've never tried it, so I don't know. But seems to be it has everything that is need to sell products online. And you don't need programmer, designer, nor anything. They will provide tech support. And seem quite inexpensive to me as well. Seem like this would be an easy route to go. What do people think?
Anyone tried it? Can anyone give me the pros and cons of it? And their experience?
Aspen, with respect; Your success is related directly to your knowledge and experience. I'm really interested in what and how you've achieved it because I am a developer and I try to provide the most cost effective solutions for my clients.Originally Posted by aspen
The least expensive site (eCommerce) I've put out was between 3k and 3.5k CAD and the actual time I put into it was much higher.
On average the typical "I've got $5k for a site" client doesn't have the experience, foresite and web know-how you are fortunate to posess. IME, there is a huge amount of r&d along with consultation that goes into the typical client eCommerce site and that far supercedes the cost of design and development.
I've been playing with X-Cart over the last couple of years and yes I can launch a basic X-Cart very quickly and skin it with a $60 template but it still takes some time to convert the customers inventory into the database using CSV (excel to comma or tab delimited) and fine tune the design to suite the clients requirements.
What about product shots?
[Sorry, must rant!]
I was working on a site recently as a favour for another designer and it had 1500 products. Each one needs a product shot.
So you shoot the products digitally with a white photo box. (of course it turns out grey) 10 minutes per shot maybe? 250 hours! Even at 5 minutes a shot it's 125 hours for raw photos. You will have to do that yourself unless you have a big budget.
So now you have products with a slightly grey background and they need to be either close-cropped at a minimum of 10 minutes each in Photoshop or you adjust the curves in photoshop and it's about a minute or two on average. Your still looking at major time just doing product shots. Your $5000 budget will get quickly reduced.
1500 products is huge I agree but I have been approached by numerous individuals for jewelry stores and charm stores with these numbers for inventory.
Most of the sites we do have around 70 - 100 products and the time spent on products shot preperation is a major drag.
[/end of gratuitious rant]
All that said, I really look forward to your Blog. I'd love to be able to provide decent eCommerce sites for a decent price. I've been approached by many developers boasting of cheap eCom site building but there sites look like absolute crap and I wouldn't be able to use them for my clientel.
What's the URL?
Last edited by awasson; Feb 4, 2006 at 20:58.
any demo of Godaddy ecommerce site?Originally Posted by artcoder
Every manufacturer I've used has provided hi-res product images.What about product shots?
And you charge them $50 an hour for this? This is basically data entry that could be done by the owner's kid or a highschooler interested in photography for minimum wage. If the client knows this and still wants to hire you, thats his problem. But if you don't tell him that it could easily be done by someone else, then you're just milking him.So you shoot the products digitally with a white photo box. (of course it turns out grey) 10 minutes per shot maybe? 250 hours! Even at 5 minutes a shot it's 125 hours for raw photos. You will have to do that yourself unless you have a big budget.
That's my point. (You read that part about suggesting the person doing this themselves right?)Originally Posted by aspen
*I have never received high quality product shots from the manufacturer and I've tried to secure them via phone calls and emails on many occasions.
With respect, nobody's milking anybody else here. I think the comments have been quite fair about it being an honest expense to do this type of venture. You have been able to do 75% - 95% of the job yourself and save money because you know what you are doing and have a solid plan of what you want. It still takes time on your part though. Honestly, how much of your own time have you put into the entire venture?
If somebody has the where-with-all to provide quality close cropped images, copy, flow or information, colour scheme, and a general idea of layout. It will reduce our work and the end result will certainly cost less. Unfortunately for the most part, that is not the case.
Getting kids to do photography is a good idea and we've done that. In fact that's how we took the 1500 product shots. Close cropping on the other hand is tedious work. We do this often for print catalogues; jewelry and the like. If you're lucky you can just change the curves or adjust the contrast but most of the time you have to work with paths and draw carefully around the image, soften the edges and cut the image right out of the background.
Tedious work and IME, 50% of the cost goes into image prep unless you have the images prepared.
I agree with the point that if you spend 500 on a site and then 4500 on marketing you probably wont get the sale as a bad looking site is a great deterrant for buyers.
Also osCommerce is a bad idea, if you want open source then go zencart.org
and if you have the time or money make it tableless like i do for all my clients as it cuts the code in half and gets better seo results etc etc.
For Example is based in Melbourne, Australia.
We specialise in simple, effective and affordable web solutions.
For Example Web Development
I have to disagree with those who say get cheap labor like a student. While I'm sure that there are qualified beginners out there, we are talking about a site that takes $$$ on the wild internet! Limited knowledge of security can 1) cause you headaches, 2)PO your customers, and 3) result in lost business.
There is a reason why some developers or development houses charge premiums! You get what you pay for!
For those who chose this route I think you should post a warning on your site right above the section where you want your user to enter their credit card information:
'Warning, this site created on a shoe string budget, inorder to save money we hired a newbie...purchase at your own risk!".